Doula consultations 101


Liz Pelletier, doula, helping client get through contraction in the birth tub

Photo Credit: Michelle Lynn, Hampton Roads Birth Photographer

Congratulations! You are expecting a baby! Now that you are deep into researching everything from maternity pillows to car seats you have someway or another, come across the option of hiring a doula. As you begin your search for a local doula, if you are in Hampton Roads, you have come to notice there are quite a few!

When searching for a doula, a consultation is incredibly important. It is an opportunity for mothers to meet with doulas and ask them some great questions but, most importantly, find out who they connect with most. I encourage mothers to meet with multiple doulas to give them the opportunity to find the one that will best meet their individual needs. Start by choosing 2-3 Doula’s to consult with, here are some questions to guide you.

#1. What training have you received?
Chances are, if you have found a doula through an online resource such as peninsuladoulas.com, she has had at least a basic birth doula training. What this means is that she has either, in person, or online been through a comprehensive class on how to support women in childbirth. This question will usually be met with “I trained with DONA/CAPPA/Birth Arts International/ProDoula/Madriella, etc.”. The doula may then go into more detail about additional education that she has received. While the classes she has taken may not mean much to you, it speaks to her commitment to serving women and should be taken into consideration.

*A note about certification. Certification is an option for Doula’s who have been trained through an organization like the ones listed above. Certification is not a requirement but does allow the doula additional credentials and benefits within their organization. The process of obtaining certification varies throughout the different organization. Feel free to ask the doula you interview about her certification status. Some are certified, some are in the process and some have chosen not to.

#2. What is your experience/ how many births have you attended? Newer doulas who are recently trained and starting out will have an energy about them, their training is fresh in their minds and they are excited to serve. More experienced doulas have the wisdom of the births they have attended. This question can be followed with “I’m birthing at X hospital (or with X midwife at home) do you have any experience there/with her?”

#3. What is your availability like for my estimated due date? You want to know how many clients this doula takes per month and if she plans to go out of town.
#3b. Do you have a backup doula in the event that you are not available? Can I meet her?

#4. Fees. You are likely already familiar with her fee when you interview her. Ask her about how she takes payments, all at once? In 2 payments? 4? What does her fee cover? Does she have a 12, 18, or 24 hour clause in her contract? (This is a clause that states after x number of face to face support in labor, you will be billed hourly.). If she has not already provided it, ask to see her contract. Take it home and review it with your partner and always ask questions if you have any.

Lastly, all of the above are great questions to ask, they may help you make a final decision on what doula you’d like to invite into your birth space. However, the connection you feel with the doula is the most important aspect of your consultation. Choose the doula who you most connect with, as this is the person you are inviting into your birth. This is the person you and your family will rely on for support during the most intimate time in your life. She may not be the most experienced or she may be the most expensive, but that connection is worth it!